Waking up at 2:15am was quite the shock to our bodies, which are used to getting up around 8am (sometimes a little earlier for erika, she is the early riser), but we pulled our sleepless bodies out of our beds and proceded to grab a quick bite to eat. We laxidasically threw our bags into the car and started our 30min drive to WDW (walt disney world) where we would continue this little adventure.
As we pulled into the park we were directed to a parking spot which happened to be very close to the porta-potties, which were consumed with what seemed to be every single racer trying to get one last shot at a real bathroom (more to come on that later).
After making our pit stop, we snapped a quick picture to show the medical staff if they needed to identify our bodies, luckily they never had to use it.
Our friend Barb signed up for the marathon quite some time ago and then decided not to run it. She said that I could take her spot so a couple monthes ago I tried to transfer my name onto her number. They were very strict and would not let me make the switch. So I just had Barb pick up her number on thursday and I wore it. The only problem was that this year, they decided to put everyones name on their race number. So i am walking around wearing a number that says "Barbara" in big black letters. Knowing that if they caught me I would not be able to race, I performed some strategic moves and finally made it into the staging area where I knew I was safe from the power happy volunteers who might remove me from the marathon, leaving Erika alone to run by herself.
When we got into the staging area, there were two escort golf carts who led us the .6 miles to the corrals and the start line. Considering that there were almost 22,000 people who were tired and not quite awake yet following this stranger in a cart made Erika feel like we were all being led to a slaughter. She was quite right, even though no one died, the annihilation of our legs was well on its way. As we arrived at the corrals where all of the racers were seperated into letter groups according to their predicted finish time, I guess its just an easy way to insure that you are running with people who are at the same level as you are. The corrals were labeled "A" through "H", A being the fastest runners and H being the slowest. We were in corral G, which put us toward the back of the group but that was ok because we were just happy to be there. About 30min before the the start of the race, we noticed people jumping the fence made of netting and running over to a small field and just standing there. It was only 4:30am and considerably dark so it took us a little while to figure out what everyone was doing, until there was one brave woman who ran out as well. Her movements were much more defined, as she ran out to the field, pulled down her shorts and squated down right in the middle of the men, it did not take much immagination to realize that she must not have had a chance to stop at the porta-potties. Watching all of these people relieve themselves made me feel the urge to follow the masses, so I jumped over the fence and ran out a little ways, looked to my left where there was an older gentlement and then to my right where a middle aged woman was squating and doing her business. After my respite I ran back to the corral and held Erikas drink while she integrated herself with the rest of the urinators.
We finally heard the start gun fire and with a slightly impressive display of pyrotechnics we were off...well, we werent actually moving yet, but after about 10min of taking teeny tiny baby steps and progressing through the shute that led us over the starting line and into our first of 26.2 miles, we were able to begin a slow trot.
The first 5 miles were quite enjoyable, the air was cool and the sun had not even awakened yet. The terrain was nice and all of the people were friendly and kind. We just settled into our pace and started watching all of the people around us. Many were running in memory of friends and family, i specifically remember a guy about my age who had written on the back of his shirt, "In loving memory of nanny... 1-8-09", this guy had lost someone just three days before, and was still out there running. People dressed in fairy wings and kilts, some in "goofy" hats and many in mickey mouse ears. A small population donned their wizard hats before the run and one guy wore nothing but a spedo. One woman dressed as Maleficent from sleeping beauty and another carried an american flag the whole way. Standing on the side of the road was a woman holding a sign that read "You are all Kenyans on the inside".
As we approached mile 10, we could see cinderellas castle and much of the rest of the park. At mile 10.5 we ran through the castle and continued through the park where all of the characters were dressed and waiting to take pictures with any passing by runners. One might think that someone would be crazy to stop in the middle of a marathon to take a picture, but many had the desire to have this memorable moment caught on film and sometimes waited for up to 15min in line to get their pictures taken, then filed back into the group and kept on running.
Having names on all of our race numbers made it easy for spectators to cheer for individual people, calling out "Go john ", or Sam or Cindy and many times I heard the name Erika, but never Barbara. I think they were not quite sure what to make of a man running with a womans name. We would always hear "You guys can do it, Go Erika and.... Um, ...Good job!". Finally one of the announcers saw my name and said over the loud speaker, "You dont look like a Barbara!", I just yelled back "High school was really tough for me ", he got a kick out of that and we kept running.
At mile 18, things started getting a little less fun and a lot more serious. As our feet started to bruise and we began to feel the first signs of shin splints, we knew the next few miles were going to be quite the ride. We pushed through the next couple minutes but at 22 miles our feet hurt so bad that we could barely take a step without making a strange groaning noise, our shins were shuttering with every stride of impact, and our backs were so sore that we kept chainging our posture to accomidate the pain, looking like old bobble head dolls.
Finally after 5hrs, 55min and 10sec of running we were finished. We did it, no more running, no more pain, just rest and water. We got our medals and grabbed some food and headed straight for the bathrooms.
After resting our weary legs, we snapped a couple pictures and headed home where sleep was heavy on our minds.